What do you think of when you hear of Rocky Mountain National Park? High elevations, mountains, wildlife, aspens, snow? How about fall color and rutting elk? The base elevation for this wonderful park is over 7,000 feet. On our first day in the park, we drove over a 12,000 foot pass to an 11,796 foot store and visitor center on Alpine Ridge.
Riley’s been higher climbing mountains and trekking in Nepal, but Karen’s never been this high – walking – in her lifetime. Another check on the bucket list!
The Dip was ensconsed in a pine forest in Moraine Campground (8200 ft.) with magpies and blue birds for company and a small forked-horn deer hung out next door.
Mid-October finds the aspens aglow, golden grasses, clear streams, and the elk in rut. Rocky has over 3 million visitors per year and while many of the visitor centers are closed by October, there is still a mass of people taking in the sights and sounds (hmmm, that was an elk bugling!).
Fall is short-lived in Rocky. Rain, snow, wind, and freezing temperatures caused an over-night change in the park. The golden aspens turned brown and dropped their leaves to the ground. Snow capped the mountains all around. The small elk herds started to gather in larger concentrations for warmth and protection. They know that winter is on its way.
For us, it is time to move on to warmer and lower climates – Aztec, NM and Big Bend National Park, TX here we come.
More images are available here – Enjoy!